The Lakers (2-10) lost their second consecutive game Friday night, falling to the Toronto Raptors (8-6).
Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 102-91 loss at Staples Center.
1. If the goal is to win games, the Lakers are obviously not achieving that this season. When looking at the bigger picture — player development — the Lakers got strong performances out of Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell.
The Lakers outscored the Raptors by 15 points during Randle’s 30 minutes of play. The second-year forward finished with a double-double of 18 points on six-of-nine shooting with 12 rebounds.
Clarkson hit six of 13 shots for 13 points and also had a +/- of plus-12.
Russell shot the ball well from the field (seven of 16) while scoring a career-high 17 points along with two assists and five rebounds. He looked aggressive, leading the Lakers in shots.
“He played with a little bit more confidence,” Coach Byron Scott said. “His whole rookie year, he is going to have those mistakes, but he is going to learn from them and continue to get better. I thought, from an aggressive standpoint, it was one of his better games.”
Kobe Bryant said Russell found his seams and attacked, but still has a lot to learn.
“His biggest challenge is going to come on the defensive end of the floor,” Bryant said. “Guys see him, and their eyes light up; they’re trying to go at him pretty hard. The offensive part is something that he can always figure out. He has the talent to do it.
“Defensively is where he really wants to start making his mark. You don’t want to get a reputation as a guy who can’t guard.”
Off the bench, Larry Nance Jr. had a difficult night, going scoreless on two attempts. The Raptors dominated the Lakers by 27 points over Nance’s 18 1/2-minute stretch.
2. Bryant sat out the Lakers’ loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday, giving him four full days off to prepare for the Raptors. He played 37 minutes, above the normal 30- to 32-minute range Scott targets, finishing with 10 points, five assists and four rebounds.
“I feel great,” Bryant said. “Those days off do wonders. I was able to lift weights, get my legs stronger. I feel great.”
Bryant laughed at his own words, urging his young teammates to both move the ball and increase player movement throughout the game.
“I never thought I’d see the day when I became the voice of ball-movement reason,” he said. “You know what I’m saying. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be the one preaching that stuff. That’s crazy.”
Bryant said he’s capable of doing a lot more on the court, but the Lakers won’t get much out of it if the longtime All-Star carries the team offensively.
"[I’m] just trying to teach them how to play championship basketball because it’s so easy for them to get the ball individually and attack,” Bryant said of the team’s first- and second-year players. “But if you get into that habit, you’re never going to win. I know. I had to break those habits myself. So I’m just trying to help them figure it out.”
Bryant seemed to make a concerted effort to pass the ball. The Lakers were outscored only by a point when he was on the floor.
The bigger issue was when Scott went to the team’s reserves.
3. The Lakers did a lot right defensively throughout the game, especially with the team’s starters. The reserves were far less productive.
Regardless of who was on the floor, the Lakers struggled to guard the Raptors behind the three-point line.
Toronto took 33 attempts, making 15 (45.5%), led by Kyle Lowry’s 25 points on seven-of-11 shooting from long range.
“They just got loose way too much on the perimeter,” Scott said. “They are a good shooting team. I thought a couple of times Kyle just walked right into them. We didn’t put enough pressure on him, and then other times, we were in scramble situations, and they just caught it and were wide open.”
4. Rookie guard/forward Anthony Brown was not with the Lakers on Friday but on assignment with the D-Fenders (3-1) in Santa Cruz against the Warriors (2-1). The Lakers’ NBA Development League affiliate suffered its first loss of the season, 106-100.
In his second game with the team, Brown scored 20 points on seven-of-12 shooting, making four of nine from three-point range. He’ll return home to play the Reno Bighorns on Saturday night with the D-Fenders before rejoining the Lakers on Sunday when they host the Portland Trail Blazers (5-9).
5. The Lakers are one of three teams with two wins, ahead only of the 0-13 Philadelphia 76eers.
The Brooklyn Nets and New Orleans Pelicans are both 2-11, a half-game worse than the Lakers. If the Lakers finish near the bottom of the standings, they will keep their 2016 first-round pick if it’s a top-three selection.
The Golden State Warriors (14-0) are the only undefeated team in the league. The Cleveland Cavaliers (9-3) have the best record in the Eastern Conference, the same as the San Antonio Spurs.
With the loss, the Lakers are still in 14th place in the West, four games behind the seventh- and eighth-place Utah Jazz and Clippers, who are both 6-6.
The Lakers play 10 of their next 12 games on the road.